Hackaday’s Assistive Technology Challenge Begins Now

This morning marks a new challenge in the Hackaday Prize: we want to see what you can do with Assistive Technology. Twenty entries will win $1000 each, becoming part of the final round for a chance at the top prizes ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

Assistive Technology means things that help people by improving their quality of life. This can take so many forms but broadly speaking this could make aging easier, turn disabilities into abilities, or enhance the access and delivery of health care.

We’ve seen great things in this area from the Hackaday community. The Grand Prize for the 2015 Hackaday Prize went to an assistive technology that linked motorized wheelchairs to gaze-controlled computers, called Eyedrivomatic. And at the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference we learned how common tools and crowd sourced skills can lead to a new take on physical rehabilitation with a robot-assisted elbow.

The Hackaday Prize challenges us all to Build Something that Matters. It’s hard to argue that there is a better place to take on this challenge than with Assistive Technologies. Enter your project today!

Hackaday Eclipse Meetups

Hackaday is all over this eclipse. There are thousands of members of the Hackaday community headed to a narrow swath of the United States on August 21st to revel in an incredibly rare, scientifically predictable life experience: a total eclipse of the sun.

Do not do it in solitude, get together and celebrate! Check out the Hackaday Eclipse Meetups page which shows where meetups are happening. And adding your own is simple. It’s a great day to meet up with other Hackaday readers and celebrate the day that the moon passed perfectly between you and the sun.

You can’t just stare directly at the sun, you need some eclipse glasses. We’re printing up some in black, adorned with the Jolly Wrencher and sending them out to all organized meetups, so get your event page up today and you’re on the list for a little bit of sweet swag. Look for the button on the Eclipse page that says “Host a meetup”.

I’m Too Cool to Watch an Eclipse

If you don’t get what all the hubbub is, you’re missing out. A total eclipse of the sun is an amazing life experience in so many ways. First off, they’re incredibly rare. There hasn’t been a total eclipse visible in the continental United States since 1979. The majority of the North American readership hasn’t even had the chance to see one in their lifetimes.

This eclipse shadow visualization is incredible. See the entire transit and learn how they produced this from available data

But of course it goes beyond the value of mere scarcity. Being able to understand, and predict an eclipse conveys a great deal about the progress of humanity. For millennia, a solar eclipse was a shocking (perhaps horrifying) experience. But through the scientific process of observation, the advances of record keeping, and the work of untold numbers of early astronomers we learned. Solar and Lunar eclipses were events that challenged thinking and became some of the earliest scientific discoveries.

This type of advancement hasn’t stopped. Even this year the application of the newest technology is present. Just one example that will turn your head is the shadow simulation that we saw in January. The moon isn’t a perfect sphere, and the combination of its landscape and that of the Earth means the outer fringes of totality will not be straight lines, but an undulating path. It’s a small detail realized in a profound way by a citizen scientist so that we may all enjoy it. Isn’t being alive now absolutely stunning?

Boil it Down for Me

So no, watching a rock cast a shadow won’t blow your mind. But understanding that the movement of this shadow isn’t random, that we didn’t always understand it, and that there are huge forces at work here will humble your modern brain and leave you awestruck. It’s a rare chance to observe with your own senses the evidence of huge masses governed by gigantic gravitational forces at incomprehensible distances through the simple act of a shadow racing across the landscape.

Be there, and make it a celebration of science, humanity, and your own life experience. Share your eclipse meetup now!

Books You Should Read: The Idea Factory

You’ve heard of Bell Labs, but likely you can’t go far beyond naming the most well-known of discoveries from the Lab: the invention of the transistor. It’s a remarkable accomplishment of technological research, the electronic switch on which all of our modern digital society has been built. But the Bell Labs story goes so far beyond that singular discovery. In fact, the development of the transistor is a microcosm of the Labs themselves.

The pursuit of pure science laid the foundation for great discovery. Yes, the transistor was conceived, prototyped, proven, and then reliably manufactured at the Labs. But the framework that made this possible was the material researchers and prototyping ninjas who bridged the gap between the theory and the physical. The technology was built on what is now a common material; semiconducting substances which would not have been possible without the Labs refinement of the process for developing perfectly pure substances reliably doped to produce the n-type and p-type substances that made diode and transistor possible.

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Badge from Diamond Age Comes to DEF CON

We’re huge fans of [Neal Stephenson’s] work and are usually looking to assign some of his vision to the gear that pops up in the real world. But there’s no stretching or squinting necessary with this one. [Kerry Scharfglass] has built a functioning Drummer’s Badge from the foundational Sci-Fi novel The Diamond Age.

The badge is called Sympetrum, which is a genus of dragonfly. In explaining what the badge is and does, [Kerry] instructs you to go and read the book first and we couldn’t agree more. This isn’t recommended reading; if you’re a geek you need to read this book.

The dragonfly badges are from a portion of the book that gets pretty weird, but the gist is that rod-logic (machines build from microscopic carbon nanotubes) is so pervasive that at all times you’re covered in mites that are actually machines. At a party, one of the characters notices everyone is wearing dragonfly pins that begin to pulse with the music and synchronize with each other. They’re actually indicators of what the mites within the wearers’ bodies are doing — synchronizing people with other people.

This badge is a working recreation of that, presumably without the billions of mites controlling people (but who knows, it is DEF CON). At the center of the badge is an STM32 driving ten APA102 modules. Interactivity is based on IR signaling. The badge will cycle random color animations when alone. But each badge also projects clock sync and metadata over infrared, so put some of them in the same room and they’ll tend to synchronize.

Simple, beautiful, and a great geeky backstory. This example of Badgelife proves that hardware badges don’t need to be packed with features, or have a huge BOM cost. If done well, you can do an awful lot with just a little hardware and strong dose of inspiration. It also makes hand-assembly a lot more approachable, which is what you can see in the images above. Thanks [Kerry] for giving us an early look at this badge, can’t wait to see them at the CON.


We’ll be looking for this and all other #Badgelife offerings at DEF CON 25. Join us for a Hackaday meetup on Sunday morning as we once again do Breakfast at DEF CON

Hands-On: New AND!XOR Unofficial DEF CON Badge

In just two weeks, we’ll be flooding into the casinos of Las Vegas for DEF CON. By far our favorite part is the unofficial hardware badges which make their way to the con each year. The AND!XOR team has put together an incredible offering this year with what I’m calling the “Bender on a Bender” badge. They sent us two of them, so let’s jump right in and see what this badge is all about.

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Hackaday Superconference: Tickets and Proposals

We’re thrilled to announce Supercon tickets are now available. The 2017 Hackaday Superconference is November 11th and 12th in Pasadena, California.

This is the ultimate hardware conference. Hackers, designers, and engineers from all over the world converge — from the greenest beginners to those who have made history with their designs. This is the Hackaday community, and the Supercon is your chance to experience all things involved in hardware creation for one great weekend. There will be unparalleled talks and workshops, but the experience of Supercon transcends the organized event. We call it a conference but it’s truly a hacker village.

Call for Proposals

Want to present a talk (or a workshop) at this year’s Supercon? Great, please submit your proposal using this form.

The number one question we get about CFP is “I’m excited about X, should I submit a proposal?” The answer is yes. Don’t self-eliminate — if you have an idea for a talk we want to hear from you. Supercon is a flat conference, your proposal will be judged on the idea and how you plan to present it, not on how many other amazing speaking slots you’ve secured.

To help get your mind moving about topics, we suggest that you consider this list of themes your talk might fit into: Engineering Heroics, Prototyping, Research, Product Development, Full-Stack Fabrication, and of course Wildcard.

Tickets! Get Your Tickets Here!

Are you a true believer? We’ve just opened up the Call for Proposal today, so we can’t tell you who’s speaking or what workshops will take place. However, we suspect there are many of you ready to take the plunge right now. Those first 96 true believers get an incredibly low ticket price of $128. This covers admission for both days of the con, admission to the Hackaday Prize party on Saturday night and food on both days.

This is the third year we’ve hosted the Hackaday Superconference. You can check out all of the talk videos from last year, there’s a slew of articles on the event, and of course it was really fun seeing the geeky and unique shirts on exhibit throughout.

Get your ticket and book your travel. We look forward to hanging out with a huge chunk of the Hackaday community at Supercon!

Hackaday Prize Official Rules Update

We have made a change to the Official Rules of the 2017 Hackaday Prize that removes a potential ambiguity in the language. This section details the Announcement of the Challenge Round Results for Challenge Round 2 finalists. The correct language is as follows:

ii. On or around June 19, 2017, Sponsor will select up to twenty (20) Challenge Round 2 submissions to advance to the Final Round based on the six (6) evenly-weighted criteria above.

This section is now consistent with the existing language for the other four challenges. It is important to disclose changes to the official rules which is why we’re publishing this article today.

The Hackaday Prize is our global engineering initiative that challenges hackers, designers, and engineers to build something that matters. With over $250,000 in prizes, this summer is a great time to direct your creative energy toward engineering for social good. Right now we’re looking for things that move humanity forward with the Wings, Wheels, and Walkers challenge. Also in progress right now is the Best Product part of the Hackaday Prize which tells the tale of what goes into product engineering and building a community and a company around your creations. As we progress into the summer we’re looking forward to Assistive Technology, and Anything Goes challenges. Enter now!